Disclaimer - All of the characters in this story are the property of Rupert Holmes, et al. I mean no infringement...but this cliffhanger has been driving me nuts!
Italics denote thoughts and dreams
Betty closed her eyes and repeated the three fatal words. "Buy barley futures."
Scott let the door go and grabbed Victor's gun hand. A shot rang out as the two men struggled. The impact knocked Betty to the floor. The stunned writer clutched her left arm. Blood oozed onto her hand. Victor dropped his weapon and moved to her side. Scott started to follow him, but Pruitt blocked his way.
"What are you doing here, Sherwood? Didn't Miss Roberts clear the premises?" he snapped as he swung his gun from Betty to Scott.
Scott stood his ground. "I was looking for Betty. I found something important that I think she should know about."
Pruitt narrowed his eyes. "You know about the codes, don't you?"
"No more than the average man," Scott replied. He turned his worried eyes from Pruitt's gun to Betty and Victor on the floor.
Betty vaguely heard Victor whisper in her ear. "Play dead, Betty. Hold your breath until we leave. If Pruitt knows that you aren't dead, he'll try to kill you a second time, and me and Scott Sherwood as well."
Once again, Betty closed her eyes and held her breath.
Victor stood up and did his best to keep his voice from wavering. "She's dead," he announced.
"NOOOOOO!!" screamed Scott. Betty heard the sounds of a scuffle, and then Scott growling, "You killed the woman I love, you overstuffed...", followed by a stream of obscenities that she would never say in private, much less in public.
Scott's angry cursing was cut off by a loud smack and a thump. Scott groaned, but the groan was quickly muffled. "Victor," Pruitt ordered, "help me get Mr. Sherwood out of here before the rest of the staff arrive. I'm sure there are many people in my organization who would like to know what he found out."
Pruitt must have knocked Scott out, Betty thought. Pruitt and Victor are kidnapping him!
Mackie raced in about five minutes later, explaining how the writer's room door got stuck. It was the last voice she heard before she fell unconscious.
Betty swayed in a pair of strong, safe arms. The pain of her wound was gone. She shook the fog from her head and gazed around her. She was in Studio A, but it had been darkened. Eugenia played "Moonlight Serenade" while Mr. Foley accompanied her on the violin. Mr. Eldridge and Gertie and Maple and Mackie were also swaying in time to the sweet music. She saw Jeff and Hilary in a corner, both of them seemingly dressed for a night on the town in fashionable, elegant clothes.
She had a chance to take in her own outfit for a moment. She was wearing a stunning ivory gown trimmed with delicate strands of gold. Her hair was pulled back with golden clips. Everyone else was similarly dressed in garments that she knew cost the entire station. C.J sat in the booth, looking on dreamily. She heard a deep, familiar voice.
"Well, Betty, we're alone at last."
Betty started as the memories flooded back. A declaration of love, the letter that began and destroyed their relationship, the daily banter and the cons and the ideas. She knew her dancing partner. She looked him in the eye.
Scott never appeared more handsome than he did tonight. He was wrapped in a white tuxedo, his roguish smile beaming like the noonday sun. She leaned on his shoulder, holding him close to her. His strong arms were warm and inviting. "Oh, Scott!" she exclaimed. "Victor is under Pruitt's command. It's as if Pruitt is an evil wizard who has placed Victor under a wicked enchantment." She continued to hold him close.
"I'm here," Scott reminded her gently. "As long as we're together, all of us, we can break the spell that Pruitt has cast and beat that Nazi at his own game."
He then became more serious. "Betty," he said quietly, "there's something I've been wanting to tell you for a long time, but you turned into an iceberg after Pruitt threw me out and I couldn't get through to you. I guess now is as good as any." He hesitated, and then said, "Betty Roberts, I...."
A blast of frigid wind blew open the door to Studio A even as Scott spoke. The entire group seemed to freeze in their places. Eugenia's piano and Mr. Foley's violin died in mid-note. C.J jumped up from his controls and ran into the studio. No one said a word for a few minutes. Then, a tall, slightly balding man walked into the room. Shock registered on everyone's face. Only Betty found the power to speak.
"Victor," she said, trying to smile, "You're alive!" Victor, the buttons on his dark uniform shining, remained silent. Betty turned to the others, who were all exchanging expressions of shock mixed with fear. "Isn't it wonderful, everybody? He's alive."
Mr. Eldridge was the first to find his voice after Betty. "Victor, where the hell have you been all this time?" the elderly doorman sputtered.
A second shadow emerged behind Victor. Eugenia let out an ear-splitting scream. The others gasped and grabbed hold of their nearest loved ones. Scott protectively pushed Betty behind him the room was filled with a familiar, evil laugh.
Pruitt continued to chuckle. Victor raised his hand to reveal a pistol, which he aimed at Betty and Scott.
Leave it to Hilary to be the first to express her opinion. "Well, Mr. Pruitt, I pegged you as a bad egg from last Christmas onwards, but even I would never have imagined you doing something as despicable as taking hostages and turning our old friend Victor Comstock against us."
Maple let out a Brooklyn-accented wail. "Pruitt! Of all the people to go Jonathan Arnold on us...."
Pruitt completed her sentence for her. "What do you think one of the reasons I fired your Mr. Sherwood was? I certainly wasn't tickled by the embezzled funds, but that wasn't my first priority."
Scott's voice sounded strained. "You wanted me here to catch me in the act of decoding your messages. That's why you didn't prosecute me when you found out about the funds. You know that I can break almost any kind of code. I would have caught up with your little game eventually."
Gertie spoke in confusion. "What little game? I thought we caught those dreadful saboteurs months ago! What codes?"
"Scott figured out that the numbers in the Sentry Savings commercial were a secret code," explained Mackie. "The codes were there all along, not in the scripts or the music or anything else we performed. Pruitt is the head Nazi saboteur!"
"Pruitt," Betty asked as forcefully as possible, "What is it that you want from us? What have you done to Victor?"
Victor slowly lowered his gun and jerkily left the room. Pruitt laughed again. "Your precious Victor Comstock has undergone some very interesting experiments. He is my puppet, my henchman. He does only what I tell him to."
Jeff's chest swelled in anger. "You mean you placed him under mind control!"
"I was wrong about you," Scott said casually. "You're not just a Satanic Santa. You're a diabolical maniac!" Scott lunged for Pruitt, but the Nazi accountant met him with a punch squarely in the stomach. Scott doubled over n pain. Betty immediately went to his side.
"Not a maniac, my dear Mr. Sherwood, but a pragmatist. The Nazis are winning he war in Europe. Hitler's ideals will soon be the ideals of every man, woman, and child alive!" crowed the Nazi agent.
"You're insane and un-American!" shouted Mr. Eldridge from the back of the studio.
"What do you know about insanity, you senile old fool," Pruitt charged back. "I've dedicated myself to two causes in my life for the past five or six years - collecting money and raising the power of the Nazi party in the United States."
Betty raced in front of the older man. "You've been using WENN because no one would suspect a little independent station of relaying Nazi messages," she declared. "Now that your big secret is out, what are you going to do with us? We all know who you are. We could tell Mrs. Redmond and the FBI in an instant!"
"Not if I have my way first," cackled Pruitt. Victor re-entered, carrying a huge, coffin-like structure that was covered with steaming wires and hoses. Pruitt motioned Victor away and proudly gestured at his toy. "This is a little device of mine. It's a wonderful way to deal with nuisances and reprobates." He opened the coffin. Icy steam poured into the room.
"It looks like somethin' from outta 'Flash Gordon'!" exclaimed Maple.
"I feel sorry for the corpse who has to climb in there," Hilary attempted to wise-crack.
W...what does it do?" stammered Eugenia.
"Oh," grinned Pruitt, "this is a most ingenious gadget, sent to me fresh from Berlin. It will give me the chance to see something I've wanted to witness for months," he added with a flourish, "Miss Roberts, will you do the honors?"
"NO!" shrieked Scott. "You can't!" He stepped up to the Nazi financier. "Stick me in there instead! Anyone but Betty. Look, Pruitt, do you remember how you wanted to nail me like a butterfly is nailed to velvet? Well, here's your chance. Take it or leave it."
Betty grabbed Scott's hands. "Scotty, do you realize what you're doing? You don't even know what that machine is. You could be killed!"
"I'm aware of that," Scott replied. "It would be worth it to save you. I don't want to see you step in there. WENN needs you. The world needs you, Betty Roberts."
Pruitt pretended to wipe away tears. "How terribly romantic," he snarled. "The thief nobly gives his life to save the woman he loves. Your words are very pretty, but they have no effect on a heart that became immune to love scenes long ago." He started shoving Scott toward the coffin.
Betty could feel hot tears begin to stream down her cheeks. Scott had never looked so noble. Scott had never looked noble, period.
"Does the doomed man get any last requests?" Scott asked charmingly. He whipped over to Betty and kissed her passionately. There were several sighs from certain people in the studio. He gently added, "I love you."
Betty nodded. "I know, Scott," was all she could manage to say.
Scott turned on his heel and walked straight into the coffin, which Pruitt slammed shut with a clang. The staff of WENN watched in horror as the machine whirred and grinded, but none were more horrified than Betty Roberts.
Pruitt ordered Victor to open the machine when it quieted down. What he pried out of the coffin caused the group to gasp in terror. Betty couldn't believe her eyes.
Scott was sealed in a block of solid ice. His eyes were closed. His chest moved up and down rhymically in his icy prison. His cheeks were still a lush rose-red. Betty slowly brushed her fingers against his frozen hand. He really had loved her, had meant every date he'd asked her on and every pass he'd made at her. He'd given his life to prove it.
"It's dry ice, so don't even consider the possibility of it melting," growled Pruitt. "Your beloved scoundrel is alive, but asleep. That's what this new gadget of mine does. It transforms ordinary humans into ice statues. He'll make a fine trophy for my wall at home. Or perhaps," Pruitt's evil grin returned, "I'll send him back to Berlin for the Nazis to defrost. They'll torture any knowledge of the codes out of him." Victor just stood there, his expression blank.
"No! NO! Oh Scott, Victor!" Betty heard herself scream hysterically.
Pruitt's insidious words were the last she heard before passing out. "This is no fairy tale, Miss Roberts. This is war."
The pain in her left arm returned, but it was duller now. Betty opened her eyes as the last of the nightmare faded away. She was in the green room, on the couch. She recognized the flaming red hair of Maple LaMarsh and the white hair of Tom Eldridge as she focused. Maple was sipping coffee, and Mr. Eldridge was bringing her a cup of the wonderful dark brew.
"Betty, you're awake! It's been nearly a day since Mackie found you in here," exclaimed Mr. Eldredge happily. "I'll go tell the others that you're awake." He handed Betty the cup and abandoned the room.
Betty painfully turned to Maple and immediately barraged the brightly-dressed actress with questions. "What happened? Where's Scott, Victor, and Pruitt? Does the police know..."
Maple pulled up a chair beside her. "Mackie found you bleeding half to death in the green room. He rang the police and the hospital up and brought us in to finish our broadcast day. Your wound ain't nothin' serious. The hospital let you out this morning with the orders to let you get plenty of rest. Doug brought you here because he wanted someone to take care of you. Mrs. Redmond said that she'd pay for all doctor bills."
"And Victor and Scott..."
"...are long gone," sighed Maple. "Pruitt had grabbed them long before the police arrived. Mackie was busy attending to you and didn't see them leave. The cops filled us in about the codes after they found Scott's notebooks and the Sentry Savings commercials in the green room. They're looking into the bank thing."
Betty sipped the coffee, but she wasn't thirsty. "Pruitt kidnapped Scott because he cracked the commercial codes. Pruitt must have been afraid that Scott would go to the FBI with the information."
Maple shook her head. "I don't understand it, Betty. Why did that jerk Pruitt take off with just Scotty?"
A voice broke into their conversation. "Pruitt thought that he'd shot Betty in the heart. He missed, thankfully." Doug Thompson entered, his coat slung over one arm.
Maple got up and washed her hands in the sink. "The cops took Scott's notebooks as evidence of Nazi sabotage," she went on. The tall, buxom woman wiped her hands on a towel hanging near the counter. "I'm gonna go reherse 'Sam Dane, Private Eye' with Jeff and Mackie. See ya later." She sashayed out of the swinging doors.
Betty and Doug chatted for a while, with him doing most of the talking. Betty itched to get to her typewriters and begin the day's scripts, but she also wanted find out what had brought Doug back to WENN. He hadn't once asked her out on a date, and Hilary was at home until the "Calico Jones" broadcast Sunday night.
After a long pause, Doug lowered his voice. "Betty, I have a confession to make."
Betty sighed. "Ok, Doug, shoot. No, let me rephrase that. Confess."
"Betty," Doug said hesitantly, "I'm Victor's contact."
"Doug," gasped Betty, "you knew all this time that Victor was Jonathan Arnold? You knew he was alive?"
Doug nodded. "He wanted someone he could depend on to watch over you, WENN, and his secret. I overheard the Jonathan Arnold broadcast while I was here to see Hilary. I feared that the Nazis had caught on to Victor and had done something to him. Unfortuantly, a meeting with another client at my office ran overtime, and I didn't get to the station in time to stop Pruitt."
Could Betty take any more shock? Pruitt was a Nazi. Doug was a spy. Victor seemed to be little more than a Nazi zombie. Scott was their hostage, and he truly loved her. Jeff married another woman and Hilary wouldn't speak to him. "Doug," Betty added, "Scott told me that he loved me before Pruitt kidnapped him. I thought that Victor did too, but..." she gestured at the wound. "I've waited for Victor and kept his secrets for months, only to give it away to the worst enemy WENN ever had at the last minute. I'm starting to wonder who's more of a traitor; Pruitt, Victor, or me."
Doug placed a comforting hand on her good arm. "Now, you listen to me, Betty Roberts. There is no one is Pittsburgh who is as kind, as beautiful, as brave, or as brilliant as you. You are the glue that holds WENN together. If there is anyone in this world who is not a traitor, it's you, Betty."
Betty nodded. She remembered the time that she had been offered a job at the "New Yorker" magazine. The efforts of the others to prove that they could get along without her almost ended in disaster. She never wanted to leave this little station, or its people. That reminded her. One of those people were now in mortal danger.
"You know," she sort of half-laughed, "all this time we've been calling Scott things like 'scoundrel' and 'bad guy'. The person we should have used them on was our own Satanic Santa. We all knew how greedy and grouchy he was, but I never would have pegged him as a traitor."
Doug agreed. "I knew that he was up to something fishy when he dropped the charges against Scott. I just couldn't figure out what."
Betty sighed sadly. "I wish I knew what the Nazis did to make Victor turn on us and on America like that."
"Oh, you don't want to know, my dear. You don't want to know."
The menacing voice didn't belong to Doug. Betty gazed toward the door - and into the bullfrog-like jowels of Rollie Pruitt. He stood near the entrance way, pointing a gun at the young couple. Betty tried to not show her fear. "You were listening to our conversation, weren't you Pruitt?" she asked quietly.
"No, we didn't hear all of it, but we caught the gist. We were aware of most of it anyway, except for the fact that I was distracted and missed your vital organs. What a shame. You won't be so lucky this time, Miss Roberts. As for you, Mr. Thompson," Pruitt swung the gun to Doug, "I'd had you down as chump change. I'm afraid I'm going to have to reclassify you."
"You said 'we'," Doug observed. "Where's everyone else?"
Betty stood up so fast that the coffee cup that had been laying on her lap crashed onto the floor, sending porcelain shards and hot liquid everywhere. Scott entered first. He was gagged with a white hankerchief. His hands were tied behind his back. His face and clothes were dirty and his brown eyes frightened. Victor entered next, nudging a gun into Scott's back. He appeared the same as he had the day before, police uniform and all.
"Why are you here, Pruitt?" demanded Betty. "To kill us all? I didn't shut down the station this time. The staff and the listeners will hear if there is any unexplained gunfire."
"I took care of that angle," Pruitt smiled his oily smile. Betty shuddered. "Miss Reece is has been locked in the closet and the others in Studio A. I have the keys to both. As for the noise," he took out two silencers out of his pocket and handed one to Victor, "these should eliminate it." The pounding in Betty's heart was drowning the pounding in her arm. Doug's hand grew clammy in hers. The color drained from Scott's face.
Pruitt went on. "I have a proposition for both of you. You two leave Pittsburgh forever, and we'll release Mr. Sherwood. Remain, and he'll die an agonizing and painful death. There are ways of doing this that would make your head spin, Miss Roberts."
"No deal, Pruitt," Betty said after a long and tense pause. "This station is my home and my family. The day I leave will be the day that I'm no longer needed. Which, as you have noticed, will probably be the end of time."
"I have my practice here, and my family," added Doug. "I'm needed here, too."
"You don't understand us. You call us insignificant and incompetant, but we all put our hearts and souls into everything that is written and performed," Betty went on.
Pruitt was suddenly thrown against the wall by two strong bodies. Victor shoved his gun into Pruitt's chubby stomache, while Scott tossed the other gun to Betty. Pruitt's flab trembled under the stern, unwavering gaze of Victor Comstock.
Scott placed a hand on Victor's shoulder. "Thanks for untying me, fella. For a few moments, I thought I was yesterday's news."
"Save your thanks for later," Victor replied. "Right now, we have to figure out what to do with Pruitt."
"Let me go?" the Nazi agent suggested.
Doug nodded helpfuly. "I'll call the police."
Scott shook his head. "Good idea." He removed the keys to the other areas of the station from Pruitt's pocket and gave them to Doug. "While you're at it, let everyone else out and alert the FBI. Tell them to tell Mr. Desmond Quist that we've caught the real saboteur, and it's not Eugenia Bremer."
Victor frowned. "Betty," he said, "what's been going on at this station? I mean, other that Pruitt stirring up trouble." He indicated Scott. "Ok, he loves you, but who's he?"
Betty essayed a smile as she aimed her gun at Pruitt. "Oh, Victor Comstock, meet Scott Sherwood. He replaced Jeff while he was in London."
One minute's distraction was all Pruitt needed. He gave Victor's wrist a sharp smack. The gun flew to the floor. All three men lunged for it, but Betty got it first. She inserted the other gun in the waistband of her wrinkled dress.
"Girl, if I can wrestle that gun away from Mr. Comstock, I can certainly take it from you!" Pruitt snarled. He threw himself against Betty. The two tumbled, taking Scott with them. Pruitt grabbed the gun and Scott wrapped his arms around Betty.
"I will not let you harm her again!" Scott roared.
Pruitt fired at them, but his aim was off. As he cocked the gun again and the two frightened WENN personnel trembled together, another shot narrowly missed Pruitt. Victor gathered the gun while no one was looking. Scott and Betty looked up in surprise. He fired again, but Pruitt made for the doorway before it could hit him.
"You'll never catch me, any of you," the Nazi agent screeched as he disappeared down the hallway. Victor headed for the door, but Betty stopped him.
"What are you doing?" she asked.
"Going after Pruitt," replied Victor. "Betty, someone has to stop Pruitt, and other people like him. Don't worry about me. I'll be back someday. The station is in good hands with you here. I had to pretend to be brainwashed, or I would have been killed before Pruitt could be exposed for the traitor he is. The Allies want me to track him wherever he winds up. I owe Scott one, too, for deciphering those codes."
He kissed her full on the lips. Scott's eyes bulged jealously. When their lips parted, he added, "I love you, Betty Roberts. I always will," and rushed out of the green room. Betty ran to the door, but Scott held her back.
Betty tried to push him away. "Scott, don't you understand? Victor is running out of my life! I..."
"...may never see him again?" finished Scott. "Betty, Victor is doing what he thinks is right, just like he did when he went to London to broadcast for the BBC. He'll be back. You always wanted Victor to be a hero. Give the guy his chance."
Betty found herself being kissed passionately for the second time in less than five minutes. She embraced him as best she could with one arm in a cast. "Scott, I've never been so scared. We could have died!"
"I felt like my life ended when Victor Comstock announced that you were dead," Scott told her. "Now I know how you must have felt when you heard that BBC broadcast last year." He held Betty and never intended to let her go. "I never want to lose you like that again."
All of a sudden, the room exploded with clapping and wolf whistles and the somewhat harsh tone of Gertrude Reece. "Don't you love happy endings?" she asked without a trace of sarcasm.
Jeff grinned. "That's the most romantic I've seen you two since the week we were quarantined."
"We might have a real couple to marry on 'Bridal Bouquet', huh?" laughed Mackie. Mr. Foley nodded.
Maple giggled. "I get to be flower girl!"
At that moment, the green room became Grand Central Station. Police officers and FBI agents swarmed and questioned the staff. Betty and Scott were oblivious to the commotion. They just stood in each other's arms, glowing with the passion of love revealed.
Alternative Fourth Season Series
Go to the sequal - There's No Place Like WENN!
Go back to the fanfiction library!